Measuring Blood Lactate Concentrations Following Capture by a Canine Search Team in Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina)
Wildlife Epidemiology Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA
Studies to assess wildlife health commonly evaluate clinical pathology changes, immune responses, pathogen presence, and contaminant exposure; but novel modalities are needed to characterize the unique physiologic responses of reptiles.1-3,5,10,11 Lactate is an indicator of hypoperfusion and/or anaerobic respiration and can be quickly measured using a point-of-care analyzer.4,6-9 This study evaluated baseline blood lactate concentrations in free-living eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina, n=105) using a point-of-care analyzer (Lactate Plus Meter, Nova Biomedical Corporation, Waltham, MA, USA), then determined the effect of handling time, physical examination (PE) abnormalities, and qPCR pathogen detection (Terrapene herpesvirus 1, Mycoplasma sp., Terrapene adenovirus) on lactate levels. Baseline blood lactate concentrations were higher in the spring than summer, in turtles with Terrapene herpesvirus 1 (n=11), and in turtles with aural abscesses (n=7) (p<0.05). Lactate concentrations increased between initial capture and PE, with peak values reached 129 minutes following capture. Lactate at PE was positively associated with baseline lactate levels and packed cell volume and was higher in turtles that remained in their shells (p<0.05). Turtles with pathogens or PE abnormalities may have alterations in blood flow, oxygen delivery, or activity levels, driving increases in baseline lactate.4,6 Increased handling time likely leads to more escape behaviors and/or breath-holding, causing turtles to undergo anaerobic metabolism and raising lactate concentrations.4,8,9 Overall, lactate measured by a point-of-care analyzer shows variability due to capture and health factors in eastern box turtles and may be a useful adjunctive diagnostic test in this species.
The authors thank John Rucker, his dogs, and the students of the turtle team at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine for being a huge help in data collection and in searching of the turtles.
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